Youth Is Wasted On The War
By Buddy Craig
I just spoke with my daughter. She had a
little window of time she could take away from her busy day. She's part of the
4th Infantry Division's assault on Baghdad. She is in the 1133rd Transportation
Unit of the Iowa National Guard. They have been sitting poised to deploy from
Ft. McCoy Wisconsin for about a month now. She stole a little time after lights
out to give me a call.
They are so young when they go to war and so old when they return home. I started my career in music as my father's bass player. He, and my mother, had a band that exclusively played stateside military bases during the Viet Nam â "police action.". Although my father was a country musician, he didn't play the Officer's clubs or the NCO (non commissioned officer's) clubs where the older country music fans were, at that time young people were listening to Credence Clearwater Revival and Crosby, Stills and Nash, Kenny Rogers and the First Edition and country music was considered sort of "red neck" but my dad had a way with the younger guys. His showmanship coupled with my mother's controversial mini-skirts (she sang and played guitar too) was too much for these young soldiers to deny. We would play and those young GIs would go crazy. By the end of the night those teenage Marines would be country music fans.
I was able to strike up some short-lived friendships with some of those guys. They were just a few years ahead of me, I was about fifteen and they were ranging from the age seventeen to nineteen years old. I played music and watched from the stage as these boys partied their last bash before being shipped off to Viet Nam. I was also there to see them sitting in the same chair twenty months later after serving their tours of duty in the jungles and rice paddies.
What once were young gung-ho boys laughing and bragging about how many Cong were going to die when they got to Viet Nam, were now old men with their eyes sunk back into their heads. They would just sit there and stare at the band and watch the other young Marines twenty months behind them laughing and bragging about how many Cong were going to die when they got to Viet Nam. I never saw one of them speaking to those younger ones, maybe they knew there was no way to prepare them for what they were about to do, or maybe they just didn't see any point in spoiling their last fun before their innocence became horror.
My daughter, Darcy, was full of that same kind of gung-ho shit those young Marines were full of before they shipped out and I said nothing for fear of spoiling our last moments of innocence.